Students and Rotary on a mission to raise US$1million for hospice care in Nepal

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A leading hospice in Nepal desperately needs a new building, more beds and a children’s ward. They need US$1million and a team from Fairfield Rotary Club are working with two Wintec students to make this happen.

With just nine beds, Hospice Nepal staff and volunteers support around 100 patients a year, providing care so they can die painlessly and with dignity. A New Zealand project team, all Rotary members, heard about their struggle and wanted to help.

The three Rotarians, lawyer Michael Grayson, retired Army Major Mike Cahill and palliative care specialist Dr Stuart Brown, share good project management skills but they needed help with getting their message out.

“We’re very project driven,” says Michael Grayson, “but we needed to get more people engaged in the project with a range of skills, and that’s where the students come in.”

They approached Deniss Yeung who teaches Marketing at Wintec’s Centre for Business and Enterprise.

“Our students benefit greatly from real-world projects like this, and the Hospice Nepal project is particularly valuable as they are using their marketing skills to engage with our community to create a positive outcome for the people of Nepal,” he says.

The students, Phoebe Deng from China and Jeffrey Son from South Korea, are studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Sales and Marketing. Both students also have work placements with Michael Grayson’s law firm, Grayson Clements.

“It’s a real project and while it is part of our assessment, it’s a lot more than that,” says Phoebe.

“In China, we tend to donate in times of disaster, but this project is different. We are reaching out to the community and working towards a cause.”

Jeffrey Son says the Nepal project is a good opportunity to experience voluntary work in New Zealand.

“In South Korea we give money to charity. Koreans typically work hard and for long hours, and we donate, but we don’t participate,” he says.

“This is an opportunity for me personally and a valuable experience during my time in New Zealand.”

Mike Cahill says the students are using their IT skills to build a website as a base to fundraise for the new hospice through the Rotary network.

“We are all giving in different ways,” he says. “While the students are getting work experience, they are really adding to this project by using their online and engagement skills to help us reach across our community.”

Mike says the doctors, nursing staff and volunteers have struggled for 18 years in a limited facility with high demand but they’ve achieved a lot in that time.

“Professor Rajesh Gongol and his medical team are angels, but they need more beds, modern facilities, a children’s ward and a training centre so that more people particularly in the rural communities can receive quality palliative care.”

“We may be planning to build a 25-bed facility but hundreds of people will get care there,” he says.

Michael says funding is a big challenge for Hospice Nepal, which operates on donations.

“Patients are charged for oxygen and medication if they can afford it, but more often they have exhausted their funds by the time they reach the hospice, so treatment is provided at no cost,” he says.

“We’re committed to working with the Nepal Palliative Care group and the Government and we’re doing this in a number of ways.” he says.

“The Nepalese Government is very supportive, but when you have so much need, where do you place your limited resources?”

Phoebe and Jeffrey are now familiar faces at Rotary Club meetings where they are helping to gather the support of members to assist with the project. They are actively seeking support from every Rotary club in New Zealand to help raise funds for ‘Project Hospice Nepal’.

There are close to 29 million people living in Nepal. Because of late diagnosis and poor access to care, almost 90 percent of approximately 60,000 people diagnosed with cancer in Nepal annually will die within one year of diagnosis. Proximity to the limited services for their care is also a challenge and the project team aims to build a 25-bed facility with a garden, a guesthouse for relatives to better meet the patients’ medical, spiritual and mental needs, as well as a training centre.

To find out more about ‘Project Hospice Nepal’, email nepal@xtra.co.nz or phone 021 328 084.

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